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Higher tobacco tax, pricing can curb use; spike govt revenue

Published : Thursday, 23 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 234


Speakers at a virtual roundtable on Wednesday stressed the need for imposing effective tobacco tax and price measures in the budget for 2024-25 to effectively reduce the use of tobacco for public health safety.

Economists, journalists, and public health experts raised the issue in the talks titled "Tobacco-Free Bangladesh: The Need for Strong Tobacco Tax and Price Measures".
It was organised by PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA). They said the existing tobacco tax structure is hardly playing any role towards achieving a tobacco-free Bangladesh, said a press release.

Discussants said between 2021 and 2023, the prices of essential commodities, such as sugar, potatoes, and flour have seen a 90 percent hike from 40 percent. But the prices of tobacco products increased by only 6 to 15 percent. This is because of the faulty tobacco tax structure.

Convener of the National Anti-Tobacco Platform, Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said, "There is no alternative to strong tobacco tax and price measures to achieve the goal of a tobacco-free Bangladesh. We hope the government will take into account the budget proposals raised in this event."

Dr. Mahfuz Kabir, Research Director of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), said, "Raising the retail price of every 10 sticks low-tier cigarettes to Tk 60 from Tk45 and supplementary duty to 63 percent from the existing 58 percent would certainly discourage cigarette use among the youth and also raise revenue for the government."

The implementation of the budget proposals would generate Tk 10,000 crore as additional revenue, they said. Additionally, the proposals, in the long run, will also help prevent the premature deaths of 1.1 million Bangladeshis, including nearly half a million youths caused by excessive use of cigarette.

Md. Mostafizur Rahman, Advisor for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Dr Syed Mahfuzul Huq, National Professional Officer (NCD) for WHO, Professor Dr. Sohel Reza Choudhury of the Department of Epidemiology and Research, National Heart Foundation, and Md. Monir Hossain Liton, of Ekattor Television. Nadira Kiron, Co-convener of ATMA, hosted the event.

It was also attended among others by Mortuza Haider Liton, Convener, ATMA, ABM Zubair, Executive Director, PROGGA, journalists and representatives from other anti-tobacco organizations also spoke on the occasion.







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